Dana Chasin at 2020 Vision does a good job of encapsulating key issuesthat surface in the Democratic debates.
Let’s get this out first: most listeners will admit that the debates seem both too long and too short, as mentioned on Stephen Henderson’s Detroit Today program this Wednesday 1/15 morning. They are too short, because candidates are interrupted at the 30-second time limit and not allowed to develop nuanced, considered answers to questions. They are too long, because they go on for 2 hours. I’d add that they are problematic, because the media pundits have their own views of what creates energetic dialogue that makes good ‘copy’ for programming, versus the kinds of in-depth discussions about issues like climate change, health care, education, the Supreme Court, congressional oversight/checks and balances, tax policy, wealth inequality and income inequality, plutocracy and oligarchy, etc. that people want to hear.
One important distinction that Chasin notes for thinking about socio-economic programs is the distinction between means testing and universality. A means-tested program is generally available to lower-income people and often phases out and is capped at some income level beyond which it is no available. A universally offered program is one that is available to all, rich and poor alike. So the Earned Income Tax Credit is a means-tested program that is capped (too low, in my view), and Social Security is a universally available program (though there is a graduated payout scale and the funding formula caps pay-ins to the program at a ridiculously low level that means the rich pay only a pittance into the program)